tv [untitled] March 17, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
>> they would wear garments made of homespun cloth. and this homespun cloth would be much more rough textured. it would be much less fine than the kinds of good that they could import from great britain, but by wearing this homespun cloth, women were visibly and physically displaying their political sentiment. >> sunday night at 9:00, george mason university professor rosemarie zagari on the role of women in the revolutionary war, part of "american history tv" this weekend on c-span3. >> each week at this time "american history tv" features an hourlong conversation from c-span's a sunday night interview series "q and a," here's this week's encore "q and a" on "american history tv."
>> this week "q and a" features a documentary about hubert humphrey. producer nick caouette joins us to talk about his program that spans humphries life from mayor to vice president to presidential candidate. >> mick caouette, when did you first think about doing a documentary on hubert humphrey? >> it would have been in the late fall of 1989. i was working at the minnesota historical society and i ran across the humphrey collection which is just -- it's enormous. 1,200 man knew crypt boxes, large manuscript bosses. 10,000 films, 10,000 photographs, 5,000 audiotapes, and i had started in -- i started documentary work earlier, maybe three years earlier, and i thought why hasn't anyone ever done this. it was a gold mine of material. and then i learned more about him. i grew up in minneapolis, he was part of my childhood, but i didn't know that much about him
and he's really been kind of forgotten, even in minnesota, but all this material, you know, thrilled me, so that's how i started, really. as i dug into it, it was wonderful. >> who was he? >> i think he was more a humanitarian than he was a politician frankly. i think he used politics as a religion. his mother wanted him to be a preacher and i think he said it was a better vehicle than church and that's how he used politic. >> 25 years in the senate? >> i believe it was 25, 83. maybe 30. closer to 30 because he had five terms. no, it would be 25, you're vite. >> four years as vice president and how many years was he mayor of minneapolis? >> it actually only turned out to be three. he was elected to a second term it would have been but then he became senator. >> how well did you know him personally? >> i didn't know him at all. >> never met him. >> never met him. just about everybody i know has met him, but i never have. >> jump ahead. how long did it take you to do
the documentary and where did it air first? >> it took a long time. first i got seed money in 2000 and then all the way to really 2010, and it was a long process not so much of making the film but of raising money and finding a venue and finding the old film. we had 120 hours of interviews. it was a long process. and i had another little short stint at another pbs station that didn't go well, lasted two years. i said forget it and i went home and bought a mac and edited the film myself with another guy. >> you edit the film on a mac? >> with joe pelo. >> let's pull a little bit from the documentary. what did you name it and where did to you get the name? >> the name came from what humphrey believed, but i don't know if he said it, but he said politics was the art of the possible. >> "happy warrior."
>> yes. >> he had been up all night writing his speech. he lost 15 pounds in two weeks. he was exhausted. yet determined that this growing commitment to human rights would crystallize in this moment. he knew the risk. if he pushed the southerners too far, they would deliver on their threats to leave the convention and split the party in two. the final day dragged on. with no air-conditioning, the inside temperature soared into the 90s, but before the weary delegates could vote, they would have to sit through more than an hour of speeches condemning the civil rights plank. >> you shall not crucify the south on this cross of civil rights!
>> as the philadelphia police paroled the aisles, humphrey anxiously awaited his turn. he was only 37 years old and about to confront the most powerful forces in american politics, with his own future and that of the democratic party hanging in the balance. as his moment finally arrived, the heat near the platform became unbearable. >> mr. chairman, fellow democrats, fellow americans, i realize that in speaking in behalf of the minority report on civil rights, that i'm dealing with a charged issue, with an issue which has been confused by emotionalism on all sides of the fence. i feel i must rise at this time to support the minority report, a report that spells out our democracy, a report that the people of this country can and
will understand and a report that they will enthusiastically acclaim on the great issue of civil rights. to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, i say to them, we are 172 years late. >> humphrey drew a line in the sand and his words reverberated throughout the country as 60 million people listened at home and work. >> the time has arrived in america for the democratic party to get out of the shadows of states rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. >> after the speech, the applaud lasted over ten minutes.
when the final vote was taken on the civil rights plank, humphrey and his supporters won a stunning victory. in the middle of the noisy crowd, birmingham police commissioner bull conner led the dixiecrats and out of the democratic party. >> a lot to ask you about, dixie crats, who were they? >> they were southerners who had begun to oppose truman because truman's earlier stand on civil rights especially that year and they were the southern segregationists, i believe there were something like 17 states were involved total, but mississippi and the carolinas and alabama were some of the -- you know, the front people. and they were -- they just did not want any talk of civil rights. and they wanted truman to defeat it and so they put up their own
candidate. >> where did you get that -- i know you talked about all the video. where did you get that black and white video we just saw? >> it's mostly universal newsreels almost entirely, which is a great collection at national archive in college park. it's public domain, so it's wonderful resource. but there's also the shot of him on the podium and some of the shots of the crowd, the minnesota crowd, came from a man from south minneapolis who had 16 millimeter camera and he shot just -- he must have run -- he must have run out of something, it was a crank camera, i'm sure, and he shot a few seconds of him on the podium and a few other seconds, and it was silent, and so what we did we found the audiotape and we synced it up with him speaking so you could see him speak with the silent film. >> here's a familiar face that was a democrat at the time, strom thurman. >> right. >> on the part of this president to dominate the country by force and to put into effect these
uncalled for and these damnable proposal he has recommended under the guise of so-called civil rights, and i tell you the american people from one side and the other had better wake up and oppose such a program and if they don't, the next thing will be a toll te talltarian state i these united states. >> those people were bad people. and we had spent our lives being powerless, you know? we'd spent our lives being powerless in the face of their power, their craftiness, and their determination to keep us submerged in american life. so, this was for us a morality play of the greatest dimension
and, oh, hubert was our knight in shining armor. >> you don't hear people say roger wilkins who just said it these were bad people. >> i know. >> did you ask him about why he said that? >> well, we had been talking about it. it was a long interview. it was a two-hour interview. he just thought at their heart they were segregationists and they were racists in their heart a lot of them and they were people that would never do anything good for african-americans and he felt they were bad at their core in that way, morally i guess. >> strom thurman, was he the governor of south carolina? >> governor, yes, he became senator. >> when did he switch parties, do you remember? >> after the civil rights bill and then you'll see him later on, of course, the '68 republican convention standing next to richard nixon, walking out with him. >> one of the things in the first clip that we saw, the reference to 60 million people
were listening. i know that was on television, but very few people could even see that. >> right. >> how important was radio in those days? >> it was the medium. and the fact that there were 60 million and maybe 180, 200 million in the country, that was a pretty good size. when you consider it's a political convention, that's a pretty good group of people. and when i first read that early on, i thought it must have been 6 million, but i checked it out more than once and there were 60 million people listening. the tv on the east coast was sort of closed circuit and it was to a few station, the president watched it on tv, but very little network on the east coast, other than that the tv was really nowhere else. radio was it. >> which he was running for the senate, hubert humphrey then? >> yes. he declared in the spring, and he declared in the spring. >> i must say the next clip will surprise a lot of people, in spite of how many times you've heard what he was in his early
days, let's run this and you'll see what i mean. >> the speech ignited his senate campaign and put him front and center on the national stage. first lady eleanor roosevelt remarked to the press that he has that spark of greatness. and he caught the attention of other prominent democrats. >> now to ronald reagan in hollywood. >> this is ronald reagan speaking to you from hollywood. you know me as a motion picture actor, but tonight i'm just a citizen and more than a little impatient with the promises the republicans made before they got control of congress a couple of years ago and this is why we must have new faces in the congress of the united states, democratic faces. i take great pride in presenting my friend from minneapolis, mayor hubert h. humphrey, candidate for united states senator. >> in november of 1948, harry truman won a historic upset, and making history of his own,
hubert h. humphrey became minnesota's first democratic senator. >> being a romantic and ide idealistic person when he went to washington in 1948, i think he probably felt that this was going to be mr. smith goes to washington, the place of marble monuments were just waiting for him to come there and change the world in a crusade and very quickly his dreams and idealism collided with reality. >> the reality was a senate dominated by the same dixie crats humphrey had angered with his civil rights speech the summer before and they would not go easy on hubert humphrey. >> after all, i had been the destroyer of the democratic party, the enemy of the south, hubert humphrey, the, quote-unquote, nigger lover. but i never felt so lonesome and
unwanted in my life as i did those first few weeks and months as united states senator. >> where did you find the ronald reagan clip? >> that was in the humphrey collection. it was actually a radio program. it was for the garment national ladies garment workers union. speaking for -- on a union program. he was the screen actors guild president at the time. >> we knew he was a supporter of fdr's, but i never heard he was outwardly supporting hubert humphrey. did they know each other, did you find out? >> oh, yeah, they were good friends all throughout their lives. as a matter of fact, ronald reagan had a dedication to humphrey in his years in the white house. they had a nice dedication. they were very good friends and he stayed at the ranch all the time. they were good friends. >> according to the liner notes the woman who is the announcer is mary easter. >> yes. >> who is she? >> he's a retired dance
professor from carlton college in memories, and she is -- she's really not done much of this. she's just a natural. what's remarkable about it is that she read through the entire script one time without seeing the film. >> and why did you pick her? >> i used her on another film earlier and i -- we had talked to richard dreyfuss and we'd talked to a couple other people, garrison keilar and it occurred to me over the period of humphrey's life, if you see films about the '60s, he's kind of a painting on the wall, you know, he's always just sort of nonexistent, of course, he's right in the middle of things and all the attention is always taken away from him and that was partly his fault because he gave things away, you hear about kennedy and johnson, you won't hear much about humphrey, and i was afraid if i had a famous person narrate, it would become about that personal again and humphrey would get, you know, shadowed, so i decided to use someone i liked that wasn't necessarily famous, although she sounded like a number of people
so people mistake her. but she's got a wonderful voice. >> and her name is mary easter. still in minneapolis? >> yes, she's retired. and she grew up in richmond during the jim crow, so she knows -- you know, she has a sensitivity to the history. >> did she know hubert humphrey? >> i don't think she did, no. she moved to minnesota quite late. >> 1948 he's elected to senate and then he challenged jfk to the presidency in '59 and '60. >> right. >> we've got some of your film to look at. >> okay. >> in the spring of 1959, humphrey eptered the presidential primaries against a young senator named john f. kennedy with more enthusiasm than money, he met the media at every opportunity. >> how do you think your race is going? >> like an roller coaster, it's been an uphill fight, but i think we've been doing quite well. >> who you went with has been the most exciting part of the
campaign. >> so far. >> thank you, senator. >> well, i tell you, this is good fun. >> thank you, sir. >> and politics ought to be fun. >> yes, sir. ♪ a vote for hubert hubert humphrey the president for you and me ♪ >> i love this nation. i think it ought to set a great example for the whole world. really to cast a beacon of light and enlightenment and the hope and the peace of the entire nation, and the president must speak for the nation, giving the philosophy and the fundamentals of our democracy and what we stand for, and then he must be able to mobilize action and carry out these programs so that the dream can be fulfilled. >> while it is generally believed that john kennedy and richard nixon held the first televised debate, humphrey and kennedy met months earlier. >> in 1960, i had the opportunity to expose america to a number of my ideas.
i was determined that kennedy adopt as many of my proposals and policies as possible. >> this week i had the opportunity to debate with mr. nixon. i feel that i should reveal that i had a great advantage in that debate, and i'm not referring to anyone's makeup man. the advantage that i had had was that mr. nixon had just debated with khrushchev and i had debated with hubert humphrey and that gave me an edge. >> how close did he come to beating jfk? >> well, the primary not -- i think he probably lost by 10% in the primary and the west virginia, wisconsin primaries, i think wisconsin might have been worse. but he didn't even really have a
chance. but that's another whole story. kennedy's campaign was pretty well financed and humphrey didn't have a lot of money and he was really kind -- sort of bought out i would have to say. and there are stories of people being handed $5 and, you know, all kinds of things that went on during that campaign, that he didn't really have much of a chance. he was expected to win in that state, and that's why you'll hear michael beschloss say that he was expected to win. it wasn't so much that he went after the noncatholic vote but it was largely a protestant state and because of kennedy's catholicism, they didn't think he would win there, so something had to change. and i think -- it's interesting because i think if he would have won that primary, i think he would have had a challenge from lyndon johnson who also wanted to run, it would have been interesting. >> in the end where did you get your funding? >> all kind of places. hamlin university.
>> that's in st. paul. >> they gave me seed money. and from 37, 38 organizations and individuals i received money over the years. the schuman center for media and democracy which was the schuman foundation then. >> bill moyer's running that? >> he's the president, right. gave me a large sum in the middle that helped. minnesota humanities commission, minnesota historical society, the south dakota humanities commission, afl-cio, i got it from all kinds of places, andreas foundation and dwayne andreas family and his brother, just from all over the place. it ended up being about $600,000 and about $200,000 i would say in kind. >> i assume there was never a time when this wasn't going to be a positive look at hubert humphries. >> well, i started off oth otherwise. i wanted to otherwise, but i couldn't find anybody that didn't like him.
they were all in love with him. the closer they got to him, the more they liked him. it's hard to do a story about someone who was a good person, it's much easier if there are affairs and murders and all kinds of other things, it's much more sensational. but i couldn't really find much. he had flaws and made mistakes. and, in fact, i asked bill moyers that, did he do anything bad. i can't say anything bad him, because he wasn't a bad person. >> mioyers is quoted as saying he's one of the greatest legislators in american history. where's that come from? >> well, he had his hand in one way or another on a thousand bills over ten years. i came out with one every three days it amounts to. and, you know, it affects pretty much everything in our life. everything that -- every piece of legislation that's now affecting our lives really came from somewhere hubert humphrey was involved in one place or another. so, he knew how to get things through. at the end of the film he says
he could set lofty ideals but also like a plumber, he could work the pipeline. he knew how to work the legislature and that's why is that he knew how to get these things done. he had an idea and he would get it done. >> the '64 civil rights bill. let's watch it and i'll ask you some questions about it. >> all right. >> sorry, i did not see you. you are okay. >> is this because of my race? >> no comment. >> can i have a minute? >> no, sirree, you cannot be admitted. >> why? >> i am not going to serve you. >> because of my race? >> i am not going to serve you. >> because of my race? >> move on. >> the stage was set for the legislative battle of the century. if a bill was passed, equal access to employment, schools, and public places would become law.
but mistrust in the government ran deep in the black community, and failure to pass a meaningful bill could spark a second civil war. >> in the injustice that has been inflicted about knee grneg criminal. the government is responsible for the injustices. >> just keep the niggers cool, pass the civil rights bill. most negros who are aware -- well, what have been aware have the slightest bit of awareness of what's going on in the country take the civil rights bill as the new method of placating the negro. >> as the filibuster began, the battle lines in the senate were clearly drawn. >> negros have many rights in this country as other people, enjoys many benefits as other
people. they have every opportunity in the world here. they have more opportunity here than in any nation in the world. i don't know of any place where they have as good housing, as many refrigerators, as many automobiles, as many dishwashers and washing machines as here in the united states. >> at last the congress must act because the congress represents the people and this means a civil rights program before congress and it will be here and i want to tell you now that we're going to carry through on this program if we have to stay here all year. >> sir, how long will you debate this bill? >> until it's defeated. >> president johnson saw the senate as a battleground and victory would come only after a long, bitter fight. but humphrey insisted on a new, softer strategy that would change the legislative game. >> to break a filibuster was almost an impossible task because he'd been majority leader of the senate and had attempted to break filibusters
himself. >> to see how things get done in american politics, you need to study very closely what hubert humphrey did in the senate in 1964 with that civil rights act. >> to see if we would try to get -- >> he had regular strategy meetings. he organized a newsletter. he had people on watch all of the time. he enlisted one colleague in the senate to focus on each title of the bill. he was brilliant in the way he organized his forces to challenge the filibuster and press the argument. >> a lot of video there, a lot of film. that first part, was it james farmer that was stepping up to buy the ticket? >> right. >> and right behind that jesse jackson? >> yes. >> where did you find that? >> cbs had found -- cbs/bbc had found old civil rights footage from the '60s somewhere in their warehouse a couple years ago and released it, you know, it's obviously it's a pay-for kind of
footage, and they sent me a screen roll and i found it in those clips a lot of material, probably three hours of material that i have, and as soon as i saw it, i knew it was something that -- i'm a little surprised, you know, they have to give you permission for some of these things, i was a little surprised some of it that they did, but i'm grateful that they did. >> why were you surpriseded? >> well, frior instance, the die crats they are blatantly racist and called race i by roger mudd who was narrating. i didn't think they would want that, i thought it might be a problem to have it out there, but they let me use it, so i was glad. >> you had malcom x. >> uh-huh. >> then you had strom thurman saying some things. where did that come from? >> malcom x was also from the cbs footage and strom thurman came from a documentary on the '63 march that was put out for
u.s. aid, it was, you know, an hourlong documentary on the march and it was in there, i think. >> what's your philosophy when you do -- by the way, how long is this? >> it's just under two hours, an hour and 52 minutes, it's a pbs two hours and our 1, 52 minutes. >> how much do you assume your audience knows? >> i certainly knewnology. we tried to i.d. them at least three teams. each person it would depend, it would depend how long they were off camera. and how well they were known. i didn't have to i.d. president carter. >> here's humphrey and strom thurman in debate. >> okay. >> the showdown caught the public's attention, but no cameras were allowed in the senate, so humphrey and thurman agreed to take a piece of the debate to a television audience. >> we know that fellow americans who happen to be negro have been denied equal access to places of
public accommodation, denied in their travel a chance for a place to rest and to eat. >> it's not public accommodations, it's invasion of private property. this will lead to integration of private life. >> in the city of birmingham, alabama, up to 1963 there was an ordinance that said if you were going to have a restaurant and you were going to commit a negro to come in, you had to have a seven-foot wall down the middle of the restaurant dividing the white from the colored. now, how foolish this is, and isn't that an invasion of private property? >> senator, we live in a country of freedom and under our constitution a man has a right to use his own private property as he sees fit. we must remember that this bill creates no jobs, so therefore whose jobs are these negros, the minority going to take? other negros' jobs or white people's job? >> the main thing we ought to press on is to get it.
the delay is going to be disastrous. >> after two months humphrey was exhausted and worried. feeling pressure from both the president and civil rights leaders. finally, everett dirksen broke his silence with 22 amendments. when civil rights leaders demanded a tougher stand, humphrey pleaded for patience and took dirksen into a one on one closed-door session. two weeks later they surfaced with the bill intact and dirksen in the spotlight. >> i for one want to publicly express my admiration for you and my sin sear thanks for what i call service beyond the call of duty and putting country ahead of every other consideration. >> i could say as much for you, my friend, everett. >> thank you. >> we have lost a battle, of course, but we're not ready to